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Dr Scott Nimmo
Dr Scott Nimmo, Small Animal Veterinarian.
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18918
Experience:  BVMS, MRCVS. { Glasgow UK }
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Hi, I have a 7 year old Golden Retriever. He definitely has

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Hi, I have a 7 year old Golden Retriever. He definitely has signs of vestibular syndrome. For 4 days now he has terrible balance. He walks to the left. He does not keep his head centered when looking forward and lying on his belly. He as some rapid eye movement but not a ton. He is eating but I need to feed him from my hand to get him started. He eats treats but kind of jabs at them to eat them and that really throws his balance off. The most concerning thing that doesn't seem to match up with anything I have read is that he will not (can not) shut his left eye. Sometimes I think he can see out of it but sometimes not. He is on prednisone right now along with Otamax ear drops. He had Xrays that came back clear and his blood work came back normal with the exception of low thyroid. I am currently awaiting a test for Hyperthyroid to come back to me.

Do you have any idea if this sounds like Vestibular? I am hoping and praying that it is not a brain tumor and I don't think I can afford to do an MRI or Catscan on him to find out. And I do have Cephalexin that I had from another dog who had an ear infection. Should I try giving this to him and see if it will help?

Thank You.

Hello and welcome.

This is not an information request but just a short message to introduce myself.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am an experienced small animal veterinary surgeon, I will be very pleased to work with you today and will try my best to answer your question to your satisfaction.

Please give me fifteen minutes or so to think through your particular problem, prepare an answer, and then type things up. I will then get back to you and we can then talk things over.



Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank You.

Hello again Dan and thanks for waiting.

Sorry to hear about Tonka's problem, however I have worked out an answer for you, please read it through and see what you think ...

1. I have seen many cases of vestibular syndrome over the years and the situation is this ... The breed is right in your case and the age is right, sideways movement of the eye { nystagmus } is almost always present as is marked incoordination which is caused by vertigo. As you say though the fact the eye is shut is not typical, all in all though from your description it is possible that Tonka has vestibular syndrome.

But there are other possible diagnosis such as various forms of neurological disease including tumours and strokes, also consider middle ear disease and infections of various sorts such as meningitis.

2. What to do about it? : Well there is no possible treatment for vestibular syndrome except anti-nausea drugs to help with the vertigo. If this what you are dealing with then the good news is that most cases will slowly get better over a period of ten days to two weeks without any treatment. So really the first thing you should do is to just sit things out and see what happens. If Tonka is not improving after two weeks then you would then consider other diagnosis. Serious conditions such as brain tumours would be getting gradually worse all the time so this is one way to help differentiate.

3. " I do have Cephalexin that I had from another dog who had an ear infection. Should I try giving this to him and see if it will help? " : Where you are not dealing with typical vestibular syndrome as in your case then yes I personally would give antibiotic cover just in case. However Cephalexin would not be my first choice as this is more suited for skin conditions, instead I would use something like Clavamox which is more broad acting. You may want to run this past your vet.

4. Any thyroid condition is probably coincidental and not related to Tonka's present problem.

5. You can reference this website for further information on the topic : LINK

I hope I have covered your question fully enough but if you would like further clarification or to talk things over a bit more then I will be on-line for the next hour or so and I will be more than pleased to continue working with you.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your advice. His condition over the past 4 days has somewhat improved from day 1. It has mostly stayed the same since then. It is nice to know you think if it is a brain tumor that his condition would worsen over the next couple of weeks.

And just to be clear his eye is not shut, it is open. He can not shut it.

Does this change anything that you thought?

Hello again,

Glad to talk this over with you further ...

1. Thanks for the info on the eye, if it is open and he cannot shut it { Or indeed vice versa } then this would tend to point away from vestibular syndrome and more to a neurological problem. Things like this are never clear cut so you could still be dealing with an atypical vestibular syndrome.

2. In the days before when MRI scans were generally available vets used to diagnose serious neurological diseases such as brain tumours just by what symptoms were available and the response to treatment. One such feature would be that no matter what the treatment the condition was getting slowly worse as time went on { As the lesion was getting bigger } in the end we were rarely wrong with the diagnosis as I recall ...

By contrast vestibular syndrome will often gradually get better over a two week period or at least stabilise but it would not be likely to get worse as time goes on. I know the waiting is hard for you but you will have a better idea what is going on two weeks from now ...


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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your feedback.

No problem Dan, glad to have advised you ...

Hang on in there and see how things go, I will contact you again in two weeks to check on Tonka's progress and if you want to talk things over a bit more in the meantime then just get back in touch with me.

Good luck,


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